Best credit cards for buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards

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Best credit cards for buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards

One path to earning credit card rewards is to find ways to increase credit card spend and get most of your money back (see our guide here).  Visa and Mastercard gift cards are often a key component to making these techniques work because they have PINs and can therefore be used in many places that only accept debit cards.

Without question, the biggest bang for your buck is to meet spend requirements on new credit cards in order to earn the best signup offers (found here).  In that case, the best credit card to use for buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards is whichever one you recently signed up for.  But what if you’re in-between new applications and are simply looking to earn rewards for spend?  Below you’ll find my picks for the best credit cards to use when buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards…

Simon Mall

Simon Malls sell Visa gift cards either at the guest services booth in the middle of the mall or in a back office (you’ll have to ask at your local mall for details).  You can find Simon Mall locations here.  Simon Malls are welcoming to those who purchase gift cards for the purpose of manufacturing spend.  You do need to fill out paperwork and provide identification for large gift card purchases.  You are allowed to buy up to $10,000 in gift cards (inclusive of fees) per day or up to $25,000 once you are a known and trusted customer.  Currently, Visa gift card fees are $3.95 per card.  In the past, Visa gift cards were limited to $500 value per card, but recently Simon Malls have been offering card loads up to $1,000.  Time will tell whether this option will continue past this year.

Since Simon Mall purchases do not usually earn credit card category bonuses, it’s best to use cards that offer the best rewards for uncategorized spend.  The best of the best of these is arguably the Altitude Reserve card which earns 3X (equivalent to 4.5% back) on mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.  That said, US Bank is known to shut down accounts that take advantage of this option to buy gift cards.

You’d think that another great option would be the Amex Blue Business Plus card which earns 2X on all purchases up to $50K per year (then 1X).  Unfortunately, Amex doesn’t like people using their cards at Simon Malls to buy gift cards.  If you do use your card to buy gift cards at a Simon Mall, it won’t earn any rewards.

My pick for the best card to buy gift cards at Simon Mall is the Citi Double Cash card.  This no-fee card earns 1% cash back when making a purchase and another 1% back when paying your credit card bill.  In other words, it is a 2% cash back card.  Better yet, Citi now allows cardholders to convert their cash back to ThankYou Rewards points.  If you or a trusted friend or family member has either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card, it’s possible to move points from the Double Cash to one of those cards in order to then transfer those points to airline programs.  This makes the Double Cash card far more rewarding than an ordinary 2% back card.  See our Guide to Citi ThankYou Rewards for more details.

Cost per point earned with the Citi Double Cash (assuming $1,000 gift cards at $3.95 each): $3.95 / 2008 = $0.002 (e.g. 2/10th of a cent per point)

Online

Banner found at GiftCardMall.com

You can buy $500 Visa cards online at either GiftCardMall.com or GiftCards.com.  You’ll pay approximately $6 in fees per card (or more depending upon which shipping option you select).  You can get most of the fee rebated back to you buy clicking through from a cash back portal to either GiftCardMall.com or GiftCards.com.  When you do so, you’ll typically earn 1% cash back ($5 per card).

The best play, by far, when buying Visa gift cards online is to click through from the Rakuten (previously Ebates) portal and pay with a Rakuten (formerly Ebates) Visa credit card.  By doing so, you’ll earn 1% back from the portal and another 3% back from the credit card.  But it gets better…

If you have a special Membership Rewards Rakuten account, then you’ll earn Amex Membership Rewards rather than cash back.  And if you sign up for the Rakuten credit card after establishing this Membership Rewards account, that credit card will also earn Membership Rewards.  This means that you’ll earn 4X Membership Rewards when buying Visa gift cards online!  Please see this post for full details before getting started: Ebates Visa with Membership Rewards. Everything you need to know.

Cost per point earned with the Rakuten portal + credit card (assuming $500 gift cards at $6 each): $6 / 2000 = $0.003 (e.g. 3/10th of a cent per point)

Grocery Stores

Many grocery stores sell $500 Visa and Mastercard gift cards, usually with a $5.95 fee.  Credit cards that offer bonuses for grocery spend are great to use for these purchases.

My favorite of the cards that earn grocery store bonuses is the American Express Gold Card.  The Gold card earns 4x points at US Supermarkets on up to $25K in purchases per calendar year (then 1X).  Even though Amex states that rewards are not earned for gift card purchases, they do not appear to enforce this rule for grocery store spend.

Special mention goes to the Chase Freedom Card and the Discover It Card (and the Discover It Student Card).  Both cards offer 5X categories that change each quarter.  Grocery Stores are a common 5X option.

Cost per point earned with the Amex Gold card (assuming $500 gift cards at $5.95 each): $5.95 / 2024 = $0.003 (e.g. 3/10th of a cent per point)

Gas Stations

Many gas station convenience stores sell Visa and Mastercard gift cards.  Of these, some (but not many) allow you to buy the gift cards with a credit card.  It’s also the case that some convenience stores that don’t sell gas code as gas stations when paying with a Visa or Mastercard credit card (but not usually when paying with an Amex card).

The best cards to use are those that offer bonuses at gas stations.  Note that many cards offer bonuses only for “pay at the pump” purchases.  Those are useless for this purpose.  You have to find cards that bonus all gas station spend.

There are many great cards to use for gas station spend (you can find a list here — make sure to press “next” to see more than just the top 5).  One of my favorites is the Citi Premier card which earns 3X at gas stations.  I picked this one over some great Amex options because it is more likely to code stand-alone convenience stores as gas stations.  It is also a good pick because it costs only $95 per year and it’s a great companion to the Citi Double Cash card (which earns 2X everywhere).

For those who prefer cash back, the Ducks Unlimited card (5% back) is a great choice.

Special mention goes to the Chase Freedom Card and the Discover It Card (and the Discover It Student Card).  Both cards offer 5X categories that change each quarter.  Gas stations are a common 5X option.

Cost per point earned with the Citi Premier (assuming $500 gift cards at $5.95 each): $5.95 / 1518 = $0.004 (e.g. 4/10th of a cent per point)

Staples.com

Staples.com sells $300 Visa gift cards online with a fee of $8.95 per card.  Credit cards that offer bonuses for office supply purchases are great options to use when buying these gift cards.

My favorite of the cards that earn office supply bonuses is the fee-free Chase Ink Business Cash card (or the similar $95/year Ink Business Plus card which is no longer available to new cardholders).  The Ink Cash earns 5X on Office Supply purchases, up to $25,000 per year.  It’s possible to extend that limit by getting a second Ink Cash card.  You can do so with a second business or by first signing up for a different Ink card (such as the Ink Business Preferred) and later product changing.  If you or someone else in your household has a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as the Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve, then you can move points from the Ink Business Cash card in order to make them more valuable.  See our Ink Business Cash complete guide for details.

Cost per point earned with the Ink Cash card ($300 gift cards at $8.95 each): $8.95 / 1545 = $0.006 (e.g. 6/10th of a cent per point)

Office Supply Stores

Staples $5 Off Visa Gift Cards

Staples and OfficeMax / Office Depot offer $200 Visa gift cards that can be purchased with a credit card, usually with a $6.95 fee.  Fortunately, both stores frequently offer deals for discounted or fee-free Visa or Mastercard gift cards.  For current deals, see:  Current Visa and Mastercard Gift Card Deals.

Credit cards that offer bonuses for office supply purchases are great options to use when buying these gift cards.

My favorite of the cards that earn office supply bonuses is the fee-free Chase Ink Business Cash card (or the similar $95/year Ink Business Plus card which is no longer available to new cardholders).  The Ink Cash earns 5X on Office Supply purchases, up to $25,000 per year.  It’s possible to extend that limit by getting a second Ink Cash card.  You can do so with a second business or by first signing up for a different Ink card (such as the Ink Business Preferred) and later product changing.  If you or someone else in your household has a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as the Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve, then you can move points from the Ink Business Cash card in order to make them more valuable.  See our Ink Business Cash complete guide for details.

Cost per point earned with the Ink Cash card when no discount is available ($200 gift cards at $6.95 each): $6.95 / 1035 = $0.0067 (e.g. ~7/10th of a cent per point)

Everywhere Else

Many drugstores and warehouse stores sell $500 Visa and/or Mastercard gift cards, usually with a $5.95 fee.  If you can’t earn credit card category bonuses for these purchases, it’s best to use cards that offer the best rewards for uncategorized spend.  The best of the best of these is arguably the Altitude Reserve card which earns 3X (equivalent to 4.5% back) on mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.  That said, US Bank is known to shut down accounts that take advantage of this option to buy gift cards.

My pick for the best card to buy gift cards at miscellaneous stores is the Citi Double Cash card.  This no-fee card earns 1% cash back when making a purchase and another 1% back when paying your credit card bill.  In other words, it is a 2% cash back card.  Better yet, Citi allows cardholders to convert their cash back to ThankYou Rewards points.  If you or a trusted friend or family member has either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card, it’s possible to move points from the Double Cash to one of those cards in order to then transfer those points to airline programs.  This makes the Double Cash rewards far more valuable than an ordinary 2% back card.

Special mention goes to the Chase Freedom Card and the Discover It Card (and the Discover It Student Card).  Both cards offer 5X categories that change each quarter.  Drug stores and warehouse stores are common 5X options.

Cost per point earned with the Citi Double Cash (assuming $500 gift cards at $5.95 each): $5.95 / 1012 = $0.006 (e.g. 6/10th of a cent per point)

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